The first 2018 meeting of the Refugee Education Special Interest Group was fueled by a lively discussion on how to improve refugee access and engagement in education. This wrap-up report outlines the key issues identified and the corresponding recommendations made by the group.
Changes to income support
Changes in the Status Resolution Support Services Payment (SRSS) will affect income support for full-time students. The SRSS is an income support program for people who are seeking asylum and waiting for an outcome on their visa application. Recent changes to SRSS mean that if an adult studies full time, when they are able to work, they are not eligible for SRSS income support. Those studying full time, including under scholarships, will lose their SRSS income support if they are assessed as ‘job-ready’.
If you are aware of any students who have been removed from SRSS because they are studying, please contact Asher Hirsch.
Educational Access Schemes (EAS): internal admissions applications process for people seeking asylum
The EAS helps students who have experienced long-term educational disadvantage gain admission to tertiary study by allocating bonus points when students apply for a course. Currently, the EAS is only available to citizens, permanent residents and those who entered Australia under the humanitarian program. International students and temporary visa holders are not eligible for EAS. Individual universities can exercise their discretion in terms of the ATAR cut-offs for enrollment.
Link for SIG members
- March 1 – National SIG Web Conference on HEPPP and the sustainability of refugee supports and other equity initiatives in higher education (3:30 – 4:30 pm AEDT)
- March 5 – All SIG members need to re-register as members of SIG by March 5 to remain on the 2018 SIG email list. To re-register, please complete the SIG Member’s Form. Further info
- March 5 – Deadline for the opportunity to provide feedback on the SIG. Please complete the online SIG evaluation survey.
- February 13 to 14 – Refugee Council of Australia’s Refugee Alternatives Conference (University of Melbourne, Vic.). There was a meet-up for SIG members during the conference, on February 13. Further info
- February 8 – National Teleconference on Education Pathways for Temporary Visa Holders. This teleconference included recent SRSS changes, which impact access to and engagement with education for young people seeking asylum. Further info
- November 23 to 24 – National Multicultural Youth Conference: young people in the multicultural world. Further info
- November 16 – National SIG Web Conference on ‘in-school models of support and guidance for pathways’. Conference notes can be read here. Further info
- November 15 – Symposium on people seeking asylum, refugees on temporary visas and higher education: Current challenges and future opportunities (University of Melbourne, Vic.). A short summary of the symposium with a link to the discussion paper is available here.
Call for papers!
- Call for papers for a special issue of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning journal, titles “Students from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds: Towards meaningful participation in higher education”. The journal is particularly interested in articles from or co-authored by people with lived experiences of being a refugee or an asylum seeker and non-academic practitioners. Writing mentorships will be offered to those who would like to contribute (Deadline for applying for mentorship: February 28).
- Call for speakers for SIG web conference on June 7, which will discuss ‘Educational opportunities in regional areas’.
Scholarships and fee waivers
- University of New England (UNE) Scholarship for Asylum Seekers and Refugees is now open. Applications close February 28, 2018.
- Edith Cowan University (ECU) Humanitarian Scholarships are now open. Applications close March 31, 2018.
- A list of current scholarships for people seeking asylum can be found on the Refugee Council of Australia website, here.
Updates from SIG community
- Monash University will be waiving the IELTS fee for all scholarships for people seeking asylum. Once applications receive a course offer, they will be able to take the test prior to scholarships being awarded. This allows students who do not meet the IELTS language requirements to be considered more quickly for pathways into Monash College.
- Monash College will be offering uncapped places for asylum-seeking students.
- The Victorian school (prep to year 8), Insight Education Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired, is hoping to expand its refugee and migrant scholarship program for 2018. This school offers sensory specific and specialist adapted curriculum delivery. If you know a student from a refugee background who is blind or vision impaired who could benefit from this program, please contact Principal Timothy Hemphill (firstname.lastname@example.org/ (03) 9707 1585).